March 26, 2009

Pickleball News by Dick Manasseri

March 26, 2009

Dear Pickleball Players,

There are now over 450+ readers of Pickleball News in and around Michigan, more than 75 new readers since the latest edition just 6 weeks ago. Many of you have just completed your first Beginner’s Demo/Clinic and begun to experience Drop-in play, or maybe your first recreational tournament or Novice Ladder. Others have experienced the Michigan Senior Olympics and are looking for even more competition.

You are all part of the phenomenal growth of Pickleball in the Great Lakes Region, particularly in Michigan. Using USAPA Memberships as an indicator, Michigan has grown by over 300% in the last 5 months, and the Great Lakes Region is now the 2nd largest USAPA region. Thank you for your participation and support.

In this edition, read about:

  • USAPA Skills Clinic - Thursday April 23rd, 1:00 – 4:00pm
  • Inter-Community Pickleball League Forming
  • Referee Training
  • Competition
  • Recreation
  • New Ambassadors

  • USAPA Skills Clinic - Thursday April 23rd, 1:00 – 4:00pm

The OPC in Rochester is sponsoring a Pickleball Skills Clinic intended to improve your performance and enjoyment of the game. This clinic is intended to better prepare you and your partner for ladder play as well as the upcoming tournaments and the Inter-Community League that are listed below.

We are fortunate to have a husband-wife team, USAPA Members Vic and Lynn Wittkowski, as our instructors. Both Vic and Lynn have won medals in recent Pickleball tournaments as well as having earned numerous awards in the tennis world. They will provide extensive game strategies and stroke drills as well as hands-on coaching. For more information, checkout

Attendance at the clinic will also provide you with the opportunity to indicate your interest in participating in the Partner Search Program where we assist you in finding a partner(s) for the upcoming tournaments.

  • Inter-Community Pickleball League Forming

Think Softball and Volleyball Leagues. Why not a new Inter-Community Pickleball League! For those of you in Oakland County, East and West Divisions could be formed to minimize travel, e.g.

East – Rochester, Troy, Royal Oak, Etc.
West- Hartland, Northville, Waterford, Etc.
Other counties could develop a similar program.

Do you have 8 or more competitive players in your community who want to play matches with other nearby communities? (50+ this year, younger groups future years)
Are there 4 men and 4 women in your community that could be recruited per team?

The initial response to this notion of a SE Michigan Inter-Community Pickleball League has been overwhelmingly positive. If you are interested, here is what you should do:

Organize a group of 4 men and 4 women (50+) who want to play as a team and select a Team Captain and a Team Name.

Identify at least 2 courts in your community that can be reserved for league play for 2 hours each week for the periods June 1st – July 3rd and July 13th – August 14th. The preference is for outdoor courts, if possible.

By Friday April 10th forward the name of your Team Captain to Ambassador Gary Bejin ( 248-770-7589) so that he/she can be invited to the League Development Meeting at 10:00am on Saturday April 18th in Waterford. Include the location and schedule of the courts that are available for league play in your community.

At the League Development Meeting, the details for the first 5-week season will be finalized. After a break for the MSO Pickleball events July 7-10th, there will be another 5-week season July 13th – August 14th with changes developed from the experience of the initial 5 weeks.

  • USAPA Referee Training

We need your help to ensure the high quality of the upcoming Showcase Events by volunteering to be part of the SE Michigan Referee Corps. It’s a great way to get a better understanding of the game too.

USAPA Members Don Ritter and Steve Balasia are two of our lead referees and they are conducting Referee Training sessions in several of the locations that are hosting Showcase Events. Don and Steve trained players at Hartland recently. The next Referee Training class will be offered in Northville on Wednesday April 29th at 11:00am. After the classroom instruction, students will be able to practice by shadowing the instructors during live matches. If you are interested in participating, please contact USAPA Member Joe Barberio at .

  • Competition

Freaky Friday
Congratulations to Beth Lawson and the staff at the Waterford Senior Center for a fine tournament that was won by Ruth and Jim Luzod, and Marilyn Allyn and Tom Valentine.

OPC Rochester Spring ACTION Friday NIGHT Pickleball Ladder
April 3 - June 19, Award Banquet June 26
Friday Game Start Times 5:00pm or 6:00pm or 7:00pm

MSO July 7th – 10th
Auburn Hills Senior Services and the Rochester OPC will host the Showcase Pickleball Events during the MSO. The two venues will be utilized as follows:
July 7 – Women’s Doubles Auburn Hills
July 8 – Men’s Doubles Auburn Hills
July 9 – Mixed Doubles OPC Rochester
July 10 – Men’s Singles & Women’s Singles OPC Rochester

USAPA Sanctioning will be applied for and is likely to be obtained at the Tier 3 level based on the quality of the previous MSO competitions.

Tournament Directors: Ambassador Michelle Pozan and USAPA Member Krystee Dorland


Hartland April 11th – Mixed Doubles-USAPA Sanctioned (Tier 4) USAPA Discount
The Players List for this Showcase Event is viewable at
and the registration form at

Northville May 16th Men’s & Women’s Doubles USAPA Sanctioned (Tier 4) USAPA Discount
The registration form for this Showcase Event is viewable at

Kalamazoo May 29th-30th Clinic, Doubles and Mixed Doubles 21+ & 50+ USAPA Discount
USAPA Member Lewis Forrest will conduct the Free Clinic in the evening on Friday May 29th with tournament play all day on Saturday May 30th.
The registration form is available at

Auburn Hills June 14th 14+ Mixed Generation and Singles
50+ Mixed Doubles and Singles
The registration form is at

Terre Haute Skills Tournament -- May 16th-17th Singles, Doubles, Mixed USAPA Discount
This is the first skill level tournament in the Great Lakes Region. Consider making the trip from surrounding states for the special Showcase Event.
Contact Ambassador Paul Barksdale 812-894-3347

Wisconsin Senior Games -- June 6th
Registration information available in April
Contact Ambassador Fred Fry

Indiana Senior Olympics – June 13th near Indy Singles, Doubles, Mixed
Contact Ambassador Paul Barksdale 812-894-3347
Entry form available at 800-776-8687

Middletown Ohio Tournament -- August 1st Singles, Doubles, Mixed USAPA Discount
Contact Ambassador Stanley Volkens

Great Lakes Regional Tournament - August 27-30th Oakland County, MI
The tournament will be open to USAPA Members only. There will a Junior Division (18 & Under) a Senior Division (50+ in 5 year ages groups) and an Open Division (All ages). Each Division will participate in Doubles, Mixed Doubles, and Singles. Registration information available in April.
Contact Ambassador Pat Sullivan

Huntsman Games
USAPA Member Jim Luzod is a resource for players considering playing in the Huntsman Games Pickleball competition.
Jim has been to the Huntsman Games multiple times for other sports and is interested in planning for a Michigan presence there.
Contact Jim Luzod at

USAPA National Tournament November 2nd – 8th Buckeye, AZ
The tournament will be open to USAPA Members only. There will a Junior Division (18 & Under) a Senior Division (50+ in 5 year ages groups) and an Open Division (All ages).Each Division will participate in Doubles, Mixed Doubles, and Singles.

It would be great to have a major Great Lakes/Michigan presence at this event. Please contact me if you are interested in helping to organize players for the trip.

  • Recreation

Seniors continue to step forward to learn the game and volunteer to teach others, young and old. They are borrowing equipment to teach their families on a Sunday after dinner on the driveway just like that day in 1965 when Pickleball was created on a family driveway in Washington State.

Recreation Center managers that we met at the MRPA convention are partnering with physical education teachers that we met at the MAHPERD convention to devise summer drop-in programs, summer camps for school children as well as and intramural programs. Be on the lookout for the summer brochures in your town and promote these Pickleball programs with your own participation and your encouragement of friends and families to enjoy Pickleball outdoors. It’s a great way to have younger players join in the fun.

Troy Park and Recreation has announced a Pickleball Day Camp for 6th-8th graders, and 9th-12th graders to be taught by MSO Silver Medal winner, Physical Educator and USAPA Member Nancy Thoenes.
Troy will also be offering outdoor Pickleball drop-in sessions several nights a week at two Middle Schools.

Rochester Avon Recreation Authority (RARA) will offer outdoor Pickleball drop-in sessions for all ages twice a week this summer with a free Pickleball Clinic to kickoff the program.

Royal Oak will feature programs for all ages this summer taught by Ambassador Pat Sullivan.
Wolverine Lake is setting up outdoor courts. Waterford, Saline, Bloomfield, Chelsea, Brookwood CC, New Baltimore, St Clair Shores, Pittsfield, Windsor (ON) and other communities are working on plans for outdoor play or extended indoor recreation programs this summer. Portage, MI is already “Moving the Pickle Outside”

Beginner’s Demo/Clinics are scheduled for many communities including several Detroit Recreation Centers (April 8th), Ann Arbor (April 4th & May 5th), Madison Heights Pot Luck Picnic (May 20th), Marysville (June 17th) and a therapeutics program at the Ypsilanti Recreation Center (June 29th and July 20th).

Please send us information about your new programs so that we can promote them in this newsletter as well as on the websites mentioned above.

We are learning that Novice players enjoy Showcase Recreational Events like the Spring Fling and Pop ‘Til You Drop events at the OPC in Rochester. Once Beginners complete the USAPA Demo/Clinic, they are typically ready to purchase a paddle, consider playing in a Novice Ladder, and even play “Speed Pickleball” where their partners are randomly selected and socialization is the name of the game. USAPA Member Krystee Dorland helped develop these concepts and served as a very hospitable Director for these two events that resulted in the 1st event where every player joined the USAPA to gain the Member discount and to support the organization that supports their enjoyment of the game.

If you would like to join the USAPA, click here

  • New Ambassadors

Battle Creek — Clark Maddox

Mecosta County — Joyce Staffen

Brownstown — Barbara & Johnny McKinney

Toledo --- JoAnne & Mike Tressler

We now have 20 Ambassadors across Michigan and NW Ohio to support you in your efforts to enjoy and promote Pickleball. For a complete list see

Just for the Fun of It!

Dick Manasseri
USAPA Great Lakes Regional Ambassador